One of the best memories from our trip to Iceland was hiking tour through the lush green valley of Thórsmörk, named after the god Thór. Apart from the ice capped volcanoes, shining glacial rivers, and deep into-the-nature hidden gorges, what makes the valley so unique is its exceptional geography. Being surrounded by the enormous glaciers of Eyjafjallajökull (yes, the one that erupted in 2010!), Tindfjallajökull and the rear end glacier of Mýrdalsjökull ensure stunning scenery and comparatively warmer weather, both of which make it a hiking paradise.
When we went in May, we were certain to book with a touring company. First, because the region had just opened after winters and second, since the area is so remote, tours are the best way to reveal more than what you will find on your own. We went to the Thórsmörk valley with Midgard Adventure. Midgard Adventure organizes a wide variety of tours in the central highlands of Iceland. Their story started with a group of friends coming together to do what they are really passionate about. Their tours, led by native guides who know the vast expansive land by the back of their hands, depart from their basecamp in Hvolsvöllur.
The duration of our tour was about 7-8 hours and started with us getting into an adventurous super jeep! Visiting Thórsmörk requires cutting across many rivers that come in the way. The huge 4WD jeeps can easily voyage across these rivers but regular 4WDs cannot make it here! In a small group of six, talking about the local geological and cultural insights, we ventured into the wilderness with our guide. On the way, we saw many beautiful Icelandic summer houses. The views on the way were astounding. We were in for something special. Something we had not seen in our entire lives.
Gígjökull glacial tongue
First up was Gígjökull. Gígjökull is a glacial tongue from the massive glacier volcano of Eyjafjallajökull (I tried and failed miserably at pronouncing this Icelandic name correctly!) This was one of the main sites of flooding when Eyjafjallajökull erupted and the best part? Well, after walking only for about 15-20 minutes, you can get close enough to stand just next to it and admire the crevasses and enormous moraines from a hand’s distance! It is an amazing experience to see the glacier from such a close distance. Sadly, with the rapid climate change, it is retreating at a very fast pace.
Hiking to the top of Valahnukur
Crossing glacial rivers in our super cool jeep we continued further deep into the valley. We took a lovely lunch break at the beautiful huts of Thórsmörk tourist information centre. Post lunch, we were about to conquer Valahnukur, a peak not very far from these huts. We had absolutely no idea what we were in for. The views unfolded one by one as we climbed up the hill, and boy oh boy, was it spectacular! As we reached the top, we couldn’t believe that we were still on the same planet. Iceland is very popular for astonishing you but this just left us speechless. Little did we know then that this was only the beginning.
Endless panoramic views sprawling in front of us in each direction. All of them too good to be true. The glaciers, green cliffs, shimmering glacial river flowing amidst the black valley base, all of this in one single frame. No matter how much I write, you can only truly experience this in person. Words cannot do justice to the beauty of this place. Be prepared for an over whelming journey.
The hike up and back from Valahnukur took us about 90 minutes, add to that stopping, taking a few pictures and soaking in the great vistas, it can easily become about 2 hours.
When we left from Valahnukur, we thought we had been in one of the most amazing experiences of our life but our guide gave us one surprise after another. Still bewildered, we were up for another treat- a hike in the mossy gorge of Stakksholtsgjá. We started walking on a rocky path, into the canyon that winds it’s way in, to quite some distance. Over the past thousands of years, the glacial waterfall has carved out this steep canyon which gets narrower as we walked towards the core. We were stunned by the sheer beauty of this place. Walls clad with thick green moss and wildflowers, birds nesting in these walls, and the river flowing by- all just added up to a fairytale place. But wait, it isn’t over yet. As we hopped around the many streams of river, we reached an even narrower canyon, where with the help of our guide we trotted over big boulders to find a waterfall hidden inside! Absolutely breathtaking! We truly felt as if we were in a movie ;)
Thórsmörk is a green jewel sitting very close to southern Iceland, which is one of the most visited regions in Iceland. What's more! We even saw these amazing Icelandic horses while on our way back. Look at them, aren't they just beautiful? If you’re planning to visit Iceland in the near future, do not miss the chance to actually experience this gem that Thórsmörk is.
Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfurárbui
As we headed out from Thórsmörk Valley and just when we thought that the day was over, we made a stopover at Seljalandsfoss. Seljalandsfoss drops to a total height of 60 meters but what makes it extraordinary is that you can walk on a path that runs around the back of the waterfall. The path is rather slippery, but we would highly recommend walking trough this path. You get a totally different perspective. The sound of water hitting the ground is enchanting, so you would definitely want to go near the waterfall. In that case it is certain that you will have wet clothes, do not forget rain gear for yourself and your camera both. Nearby, there is another waterfall, Gljúfurárbui, hidden in a canyon. If you decide to not go to Stakksholtsgjá, then Gljúfurárbui is a good alternative.
We hope we were able to give you a tease of the Thórsmörk Valley and the beautiful waterfalls. The views are mind-boggling and I would not be exaggerating if I say that the hike through the remote wilderness is life changing. Thórsmörk is as close to heaven as it gets. It has been a month that we are back from our trip in Iceland, and we have been wanting to go back to these landscapes ever since. Do let us know your thoughts on our article or share your story with us. Have you ever been to Thórsmörk Valley?
This trip was made in partnership with Midgard Adventure who sponsored our trip. All the photos and opinions are our own.